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A Genuine In ‘t Aepjen Bar Review (Secret History from a Local)

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Place Details

Name: In t Aepjen

Rating: 4.3 / 5

City: Amsterdam

Country: Netherlands

Address: Zeedijk 1, 1012 AN Amsterdam

Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday 2 pm – 1 am Friday – Saturday 2 pm–3 am

Location

About In t Aepjen

If you want a blend of fascinating cultural history and nightlife, In ‘t Aepjen might be the perfect spot. Set in one of the oldest buildings in Amsterdam from the 1500s, this brown bar has an incredible past. The name translates to “In the Monkeys.” The pub here was known to be a spot where sailors would repay their bar debts by bringing back foreign goods, uhm, monkeys, to make a whole with the bar owner. It’s set on the iconic Zeedijk, number 1 to be exact, which is also one of the oldest streets in Amsterdam.

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Our Take

Inside Cafe in the Monkeys (Cafe 't Aepjen) in Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The debate remains open on the oldest brown bar in Amsterdam. Some people say it’s In ‘t Aepjen, while others say it’s Café Chris. The lack of official documentation of building history always fascinates me.

I’ve visited In ‘t Aepjen dozens of times. It’s right near Centraal Station and on one of the oldest streets in Amsterdam, the iconic Zeedijk, which means the Sea Dijk. The oldest lock and dam is just up the Zeedijk from this iconic brown bar.

The history of this spot is unlike anything I’ve heard before. Drunken sailors would come here to repay their old bar debts and occasionally sleep here after returning from sea.

While the bar is not entirely from this period (reopened in the 1990s), you’ll find plenty of trinkets and depictions of life during the yesteryears throughout the bar. In true Dutch fashion, you’ll surely enjoy descending the stairs to the bathroom, steep and narrow.

The Experience (And Drinks)

Historic In 't Aepjen, Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Here, you’ll be somewhat near the Red Light District but not entirely in the mix. Before you step in, make sure you check out the outside facade. You’ll notice something drastically different than other buildings on the Zeedijk. It’s completely black wood. Wood facades are almost unheard of

The only thing that has stopped me from becoming a sailor with a bar debt here is that the beer of choice is Gulpener, which many locals enjoy, but for me, it’s a bit rough around the edges. They do have some great Belgian-style beers as well.

If you want to go true Old Amsterdam-style, opt for the Jenever. And, of course, this is a brown bar. No food is served. But you’re here to drink and enjoy the friendly conversation with friends, bar mates, and anyone else who walks in the door.

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